Making Visible the People Who Feed Us: Educating for Critical Food Literacy Through Multicultural Texts
AbstractThe number of food systems education programs and curricula in the U.S. has increased in response to the growing interest in where food comes from and how it is grown. While these educational efforts aim to increase learners' connection to food and the land, they do not always focus explicitly on the structural inequities that shape food systems and the experiences of food workers. There is, however, a small but growing number of food systems education programs that seek to shed light on and challenge these inequities. We build on these existing critical approaches to food systems education by introducing the notion of critical food literacy—or the ability to examine one's assumptions, grapple with multiple perspectives and values that underlie the food system, understand the larger sociopolitical contexts that shape the food system, and take action toward creating just, sustainable food systems. In particular, we discuss and highlight the potential of multicultural texts to make visible food workers, especially those who tend to be less visible, and identify pedagogical strategies for cultivating critical food literacy by drawing on empirical research on response to multicultural literature and using a multicultural text produced by the Food Chain Workers Alliance as an illustrative example. Ultimately, we argue that citizens who develop and demonstrate critical food literacy can participate in public, democratic discourse about food systems and help create food systems that are just and sustainable for all.
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